SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Avengers #9, by Jason Aaron, David Marquez, Justin Ponsor and VC's Cory Petit.
While his DC rival Aquaman is enjoying his highest profile ever thanks to a feature film swimming into theaters later this year, Marvel's Namor the Sub-Mariner just got a major power boost of his own that makes him the strongest underwater hero around.
After launching his latest crusade against humanity and anyone else who lives on land in Avengers #9, Namor single-handedly takes down almost all of the Avengers in a few seconds -- and this isn't an Avengers team where Hawkeye and Black Widow are the strongest members. It's one of the most powerful Avengers teams ever assembled, with Iron Man, Thor, Captain Marvel, Ghost Rider and She-Hulk on the squad. A crew so powerful, they even beat up a Celestial!
While it's not clear where Namor got his power boost, it definitely happened pretty recently. When he wasn't hanging around with his mutant pals over in X-Men: Red, Namor's last major fight just happened a few months ago in Thor #1, by Jason Aaron and Mike del Mundo. In that story, Namor and Thor fought while the Asgardian was looking for a mystical artifact. Even though Thor easily won that one-on-one underwater, battle, Namor kept Thor and Iron Man at bay with one hand each this time around and didn't flinch after taking a direct hit from Captain Marvel.
Namor's never been a pushover, and he's been one of Marvel's strongest heroes since he was created by Bill Everett in 1939. Thanks to his Atlantean heritage and mutant powers, Namor has a range of powers that make him super-fast, super-strong and super-durable. While all of those powers are exponentially stronger when he's in water, Namor is one of the only characters who can trade blows with the Hulk, even when he's on dry land.
During Avengers vs. X-Men, Namor got a major power boost when he merged with a portion of the Phoenix Force. The Phoenix took Namor's powers to cosmic new heights, but it basically drove him crazy. After he flooded Wakanda, pretty much every Avenger teamed-up to defeat him. While Namor was barely able to control the Phoenix's power, it's worth noting that his new costume looks a lot like the outfit he wore when he possessed the Phoenix Force, which could offer a hint about the power's mysterious origins. Overall, he still seems to have a steadier handle on his newest power upgrades. Along with his recent anti-air-breather stance, that sets Namor up as a major threat to the rest of the Marvel Universe.
While Namor's new aquatic powers definitely put him in a league of his own, he's only the latest classic Marvel character to get a major power boost recently.
During Aaron and Ed McGuinness' recent run on Avengers, every member of the team received major power upgrades that helped them defeat a Dark Celestial and the Horde, a cosmic plague of space bugs. While most of these power boosts were only temporary, Robbie Reyes, the current Ghost Rider, kept his newfound abilities to perform the character's classic Penance Stare and take control over something as big as a Celestial's body. The Hulk also just developed a new "Devil Hulk" persona in Immoral Hulk who uses his incalculable strength more ruthlessly than he ever has before. Like Namor, he almost defeated the Avengers before the team hit him with a beam of direct "hard" sunlight.
For decades, the conventional wisdom was that the Justice League and DC's heroes were a little bit more powerful than their Marvel counterparts. If Namor and these other Marvel heroes keep getting more powerful, that won't be the case for much longer.